Now that I have kind of eased my way in to this total dedication of a website to my craft, I’m going to dive right in and flesh out a post that has been percolating for quite some time.
Having had the better part of two years to re-stoke my passion for yarn, I started making a mental list of the kinds of fibers I enjoy working with and those I decidedly do not.
I have steadily built up a collection of a variety of yarns for the kinds of things I have been primarily making, those being amigurumi, baby wearables, and adult accessories like fingerless mittens, scarves, washcloths, and hats. I am slowly but surely expanding on my skills and I intend to continue challenging myself, even if it seems crap-your-pants intimidating.
I don’t believe that one must work with yarn in order to love it, to say nothing of fantasizing about all the things that can be made from it. There’s just something about browsing in yarn shops that transfixes you; it’s quite the meditative experience as you caress the skeins or hanks that come in a rainbow of colors and fibers, animal and synthetic alike.
Personally, I was not a little amazed at how quickly the yarn stores amassed in my home. As I type this out right now, one half of my L-shaped couch is taken up with a portion of my yarn stash, a project I put down and need to pick up again, my Yarn Drum holding more supplies and my hooks, Polyfil stuffing, several books, and other paraphernalia. (I have an incredibly patient and tolerant husband, whom you’ll probably hear me mention from time to time.) I usually cram myself in the elbow of the couch in order to work and leave DH some room. It’s safe to say that it is a mutual goal between me and my husband for me to have a craft room just for All the Yarn and anything related to it.
So: below is a shortlist of yarns I like and one or two I don’t–it is BY NO MEANS comprehensive. In fact, I have yarns in my stash that I haven’t even worked with yet and won’t have time to mention. But I bought them because I knew I’d want to try them out. Those untapped skeins still hold a lot of whimsy for me until I actually put them around a hook and get cracking.
Vanna’s Choice: a lovely acrylic worsted weight craft yarn. There are an abundance of colors and my local JoAnn Fabric carries it, so it’s easy to find in person. However, some of the colors I can only find online, and at least two have been discontinued, much to my consternation, e.g. Soft Pink and Duckie. It has some good spring to it but is also soft enough to the touch. I prefer to make amigurumi with this yarn, first and foremost. It’s also not bad for the occasional hat. Who knew the letter-turning lady from Wheel of Fortune was a yarn junkie, too?
Red Heart Super Saver: Another acrylic worsted weight yarn. I have read from many a crocheter that RHSS is great for blankets because it washes well and becomes soft. I remain unconvinced I’ll ever make a blanket with it. It is quite stiff and scratchy, especially the more colorful variegated skeins. However, it is very good for amigurumi. I began a Christmas stocking following a Red Heart pattern but I bit off more than I could chew and I need to start over. I was too inexperienced when I began it–file it under Crochet Fail. Pro: this yarn comes in a TON of colors and is available in many brick-and-mortar stores and websites.
Red Heart Boutique: there are different variations of Boutique but I have tried Unforgettable and Treasure for various projects. For acrylic yarns, they do a nice job of making them soft and in a ton of gorgeous color-changing yarns.
Conversely, Red Heart With Love is one yarn I am not thrilled with. That is not to say that it isn’t a good craft yarn, for those who like working with larger, chunkier (acrylic) yarns. I bought a skein of it on a whim and made one granny square and was done. I am confident others can and do make very nice blankets out of it. It’s just not for me.
Bernat Softee Baby: this is a terrific acrylic baby yarn! It works up well for tons of things for baby, including blankets, hats, booties, etc. I have found it is limited in colors but what is available is lovely. Will keep using, for sure.
Caron Simply Soft: I’ve had mixed results with this acrylic yarn. The pros are that it is, as it boasts, quite soft, has a sheen to it, and comes in some stunning colors, including and particularly jewel tones. I find it makes better garments or blankets than amigurumi. It has what experienced crocheters call “drape.” It’s taken me a few times of hearing or reading this word for me to pick up contextually that it means it takes to a shape nicely. No bunching. That said, it can be quite splitty when working with it. I believe one must use a larger hook, have looser tension, and/or use a hook set like Clover if you don’t want to pull your hair out when working with this yarn. My sharper Susan Bates hooks did not like Caron Simply Soft.
Knit Picks: oh my goodness, where do I start with Knit Picks? This is a soup-to-nuts yarn company that offers terrific yarns from acrylic to silk at reasonable prices for what you get. For example, I was previously only using Lily Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn for washcloths and dish cloths, but I will continue to buy cotton yarn from Knit Picks. CotLin is quite nice and I have Dishie on my wishlist. I have also made a gorgeous baby blanket from the Shine Sport yarn, which is a blend of Pima cotton and bamboo. I’m now working with the Comfy line in fingering weight on one of my New Crochet Challenges–it is ultra soft and comes in gorgeous bright colors! I have also made amigurumi from Knit Picks’ Brava acrylic line, fingerless mittens in Chroma, and have Galileo waiting for me in a few shades. I could and probably will do a separate post on Knit Picks later on. I just lurve this brand!
A few other brands I have used and quite like are: Deborah Norville (limited to JoAnn Fabric stores but Amazon carries a lot of it), Lion Brand, Universal Yarn, Cascade, and Berroco. Side note: some people may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned Michael’s. While Michael’s has long been a favorite craft store of mine, at least in my local store, the yarn selection leaves something to be desired. So, while I still have love for Michael’s, and can roam around in there for far too long, it is not my yarn store.
Lastly, there are quite a few specialty yarn brands out there I have not yet ordered from but will someday, including Jimmy Bean’s Wool and Nerd Girl Yarns. I need to give a shoutout to LoveKnitting here because I have ordered several of the brands I’ve mentioned from them and they not only have loads of brands, terrific customer service, fast shipping, and frequent sales, but your order arrives in an organza bag. It’s those little touches, you know?
Anybody relatively experienced knows that I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg and I’ve written an exhaustive post already. As I mentioned above, I will likely dedicate further blog posts to particular brands, especially as I branch out from mostly synthetic fibers. I do have some merino wool blends, a couple of worsted wool skeins, one alpaca/silk hank that I’m figuring out what to do with, and some angora blend skeins that I’m ruminating on what to make; I’ll update as soon as I have figured out just the right projects for those.
In the meantime, my hope is that I have helped out a few other novices or even advanced beginners like myself who want to “talk shop” and get a yarn dialogue going, or just shed some light to those who need some recommendations on where to start for a particular project. I geek out just a tad with all this stuff.
Until next time!